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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

232                             THE GAY GENIUS

Tungpo's time, the lecturer stood up while the other officials were per-
mitted to sit down during the lecture. When Wang Anshih was a
lecturer, he wanted to have the lecturer sit down while the others stood
up, but another official had objected and overruled him. During this
period the pompous, self-important Cheng Yi also took part in the
series because of his knowledge of the classics, but he was only a tutor
of the lowest rank. He, too, demanded the privilege of sitting dowtf
while lecturing, as a sign of respect for the teacher that was an
important Confucian tenet. It was Cheng Yi who constantly lectured
the young Emperor Tsehtsung about the power of the devil and the
seductiveness of women, until the boy, who felt no attraction towards
women then, was firmly resolved that he was going to have a gay time
by the time he was grown up. The young emperor later divorced his
empress and died at the age of twenty-four.

As far as the Su family was concerned, there was decided advantage
in living at the capital. Having sold their old house, Su Tungpo now
established his residence on Paichia Alley. Even if they had not sold
their house, it would have been too far from his office. The new
residence was close to the Eastern Palace Gate (Tunghuamen) through
which the officials entered at dawn to go into the imperial audience. It
was, therefore, in the popular residential district of the officials, what
we might call the mid-town section, where the most expensive shops
and restaurants were located.

The family began now to enjoy the new life of the capital, a far cry
from the farm at Huangchow. They had not lived in the capital <g|
about fifteen years, with the exception of the three months whel
Tungpo was brought to the capital under detention and the time when
he was denied entry and stopped in the suburb. We do not know
whether the dutiful Mai, who had left for a small post in Kiangse, came
back to join the family. But the two younger sons, Tai and Kuo, six-
teen and fourteen years old respectively, were at home. Both Mrs. Su
and Chaoyun were now able to enjoy a comfortable life, a little awed
by the luxury of the capital. Jewellery shops, silk shops, medicine.shops,
imposing structures two or three storeys high, stood all around them.

The best of everything China could produce was there near the
Eastern Palace Gate, selling at prices that would frighten a woma^
from the countryside. No matter how expensive the goods were, like'
fruit and flowers out of season, there were always people willing to pay
for them. One great convenience was the hiring of servants from
employment bureaus. The place swarmed with wine restaurants and
other eating-places. At night, when one entered a wine restaurant,
prostitutes lined the main corridor ready for the customers to call them
to serve at the tables, and young boys had to look straight ahead or pin